December 11, 2014 meeting


Karl B will speak on “What Makes a Good Bonsai?” What do judges look for when selecting trees for prestigious bonsai shows?  It is difficult to improve our own trees if we don’t have a clear vision of the perfection for which we are striving. With images of the best bonsai, we’ll discuss what the hallmarks of a really great bonsai are, and how to achieve them.

December is also our cookie-fest. Get an early start on your holiday calorie consumption. If you have a favorite recipe and time and inclination, bring some to share with the rest of the group. Not required of anyone, so please come whether you bring cookies or not.

Officers were to be elected in November (which we didn’t do) so we’ll hold elections for anyone wanting to hold office in the Society.

In addition, think about what activities you want the club to implement next year. What topics do you want to hear, or species you want to try, or, …

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November wrap-up:

If you missed the November meeting, you missed a great talk by Brian B discussing his collecting and experiences using hackberry – Celtic occidentalis. It is a common tree in the central US and its range extends north to about Wausau. It is common on flood plains, but is tolerant of a wide range of environments. Brian reports that the leaf size reduces dramatically when bonsai-ed. In addition, a gnarly, warty bark develops in a handful of years. This warty bark helps to identify the tree even when the tree has no foliage. Trees growing in wetter sites can often be collected with a minimal amount of digging.

When I mentioned to Barbara B what a wonderful presentation it was, she said, “Well, do you know where the Wisconsin State Record hackberry is located?” For someone who has trouble remembering the location of his car keys, I gave a succinct and unambiguous, “no – where?” It is located right here in Madison at 1815 Summit Avenue. It has a circumference of 164 inches and a height of 98 feet. She knew of it because the beautiful yard was on the Olbrich Garden tour this year. The tree was just a bonus.

Wisconsin’s Champion Trees

Speaking of champion trees, local arborist Bruce Allison is the author of Wisconsin’s Champion Trees published in 2005. It is available from the public library, or from Amazon – about $14.  While we bonsai hobbyists aren’t interested in big, old trees per se, we want our bonsai trees to look like big, old trees.

A champion tree is the largest recorded tree of its species. In this book, R. Bruce Allison takes us on a tour of Wisconsin’s champion trees. Champion trees have been officially recorded in the state since 1941. This book contains the location and measurements of 153 species of Wisconsin champion trees. Here is a guide and a challenge to all Wisconsin big-tree hunters to seek and nominate new record trees.”

This would be convenient to keep in your glove box, so when you are traveling around the state you could check if any champion trees were in the vicinity. I was surprised to learn that the state record European purple beech is only a few blocks from where I grew up in Milwaukee. You can also search for record trees on the DNR website